The FBI and MI5 are stridently warning about economic espionage and hacking operations by the Chinese government!
Here is what you need to know…
FBI + MI5 Are Stridently Warning About Chinese Espionage!
On July 7, 2022, FBI Director Christopher Wray joined MI5 Director General Ken McCallum at the MI5 London headquarters to issue a joint warning about Chinese spying and cyberattacks.
Ken McCallum said that MI5 was running seven times as many investigations into China, as it had just four years ago. He also said that MI5 planned to double that to tackle the widespread attempts.
Christopher Wray, on the other hand, stressed that the FBI had substantially increased its investigations into China, and is currently managing about 2,000 problems, and opening about two counterintelligence cases every day.
Both McCallum and Wray alleged that the Chinese government is engaged in a “coordinated campaign” to “cheat and steal [technology] on a massive scale“.
They also stressed that China’s hacking programme dwarfs that of any other major country, and that it has a global network of intelligence operatives.
China Espionage Now Focused On Sanctions Mitigation
Even more worrying is the fact that China is working to shield its economy from any future sanctions, obviously learning from how the West punished Russia for invading Ukraine.
This suggests that China is at least preparing for the possibility, if not the eventuality, of insulating its economy from potential sanctions, should it attack Taiwan.
Wray said that China is “trying to cushion themselves from harm if they do anything to draw the ire of the international community”, and that the Chinese government is pressuring Western businesses not to criticise Beijing or its policies.
He declined to say whether an invasion of Taiwan has become more likely due to these measures, but warn that Western investments in China could be similarly impacted by such a conflict.
Wray also shared that the Chinese government had directly interfered in a New York congressional election, because they did not want a candidate who was a critic and a former Tiananmen Square protestor to be elected.
Both Wray and McCallum said that the intention of the joint address was to “send the clearest signal” to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), because if China decides to invade Taiwan, it would cause “one of the most horrific business disruptions the world has ever seen“.
FBI + MI5 : Examples Of Chinese Espionage
McCallum shared some specific cases of Chinese espionage activities that MI5 detected and thwarted.
Late last year Chinese intelligence officer Shu Yenjoon was convicted in a US court on charges of economic espionage and theft of trade secrets from the US aviation sector.
Shu was active in Europe too: he’d been part of a prolific Ministry of State Security network targeting the aerospace sector.
MI5 worked with those being targeted in the UK to mitigate the risks until the FBI action could solve the problem for both of us.
Clandestine espionage methodology isn’t always necessary. Take the tale of Smith’s Harlow, a UK-based precision engineering firm. In 2017 Smith’s Harlow entered into a deal with a Chinese firm, Futures Aerospace. The first of three agreed technology transfers saw Futures pay £3m for quality control procedures and training courses.
You know how this ends: after further sharing of valuable IP, Futures abandoned the deal. Smith’s Harlow went into administration in 2020. As their Chairman put it: “They’ve taken what they wanted and now they’ve got it, they didn’t need the shell of Smith’s”.
The CCP doesn’t just use intelligence officers posing as diplomats in the classic fashion. Privileged information is gathered on multiple channels, in what is sometimes referred to as the ‘thousand grains of sand’ strategy.
In Germany a retired political scientist and his wife who together ran a foreign policy think tank passed information to the Chinese intelligence services for almost ten years.
In Estonia a NATO maritime scientist was convicted for passing information to his Chinese handlers, who claimed to be working for a think tank.
Cultivating New Contacts
The deceptive use of professional networking sites is well known. Seemingly flattering approaches turn into something more insidious – and damaging.
In one example a British aviation expert received an approach online, ostensibly went through a recruitment process, and was offered an attractive employment opportunity. He travelled twice to China where he was wined and dined. He was then asked – and paid – for detailed technical information on military aircraft. The ‘company’ was actually run by Chinese intelligence officers.
Chinese Response To FBI + MI5 Espionage Allegations
Chinese government officials naturally rejected espionage allegations by the FBI and MI5.
A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, Liu Pengyu, called the accusations groundless and said that China “firmly opposes and combats all forms of cyber-attacks“, and would “never encourage, support or condone cyber-attacks“.
His statement also said that the Taiwan issue was “purely China’s internal affair” and that there was “no room for compromise or concession“. It also said that China “will strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and efforts“, but noted that China would “reserve the option of taking all necessary measures in response to the interference of foreign forces“.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian did not address the claims directly, but accused the United States of being the real danger instead.
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